Sunday, November 04, 2012

True Romance

Directed by Tony Scott and written by Quentin Tarantino, True Romance is the story of a couple who travel to California with a luggage of cocaine that they hope to sell for a good life. Yet, they find themselves in trouble with the mob who are after them as well as cops who learn what they’re going to do. The film is a love story mixed in with a bit of violence as it explores a couple trying to seek a good life for themselves. Starring Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Michael Rapaport, Dennis Hopper, Bronson Pinchot, Gary Oldman, Tom Sizemore, Saul Rubinek, Val Kilmer, Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, Chris Penn, and Christopher Walken. True Romance is a glorious yet spectacular film from Tony Scott.

A call-girl named Alabama (Patricia Arquette) meets a comic book store clerk named Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) at Sonny Chiba triple-feature where they fall in love and get married after a one-day courtship. When Clarence learns that Alabama’s pimp is a crazed madman named Drexl (Gary Oldman), Clarence decides to confront Drexl leading to a fight where Clarence kills Drexl and gets a luggage that he thought belonged to Alabama. When the two realize that the luggage isn’t Alabama but an entire stash of cocaine, the two make a plan to sell it in Hollywood so they can use the money to live the good life. After Clarence decides to tell his security cop father Clifford (Dennis Hopper) to see if anyone is looking for any suspects about who killed Drexl. Clifford helps Clarence out as he learns what his son and new daughter-in-law plan to do as he bids them goodbye.

After arriving to California to meet their friend Dick Ritchie (Michael Rapaport), Clarence and Alabama meet Dick’s acting class friend Elliot Blitzer who is an associated of famed film producer Lee Donowitz (Saul Rubinek) that is interested in buying cocaine. Blitzer calls Donowitz where Clarence talks to Donowitz about making a deal as it’s going to happen. With everything seemingly in place, a gangster named Vincent Coccotti (Christopher Walken) learns about Clarence and Alabama’s whereabouts where he sends his henchman Virgil to track them down. After Virgil confronts Alabama about where the drugs are, the two get into a fight where Clarence realizes the trouble they’re facing.

Even worse is that Blitzer got arrested for speeding and possession where he makes a deal with two detectives in Nicholson (Tom Sizemore) and Dimes (Chris Penn) about the drug deal. Just as Clarence and Alabama are to set to make their deal with Donowitz, both the police and the mob come in leading to a bloody standoff.

The film is essentially a love story between an Elvis-obsessed film buff who also loves comic books and a call girl who also shares his passion for kung fu movies where they get a suitcase of cocaine and hope to sell it big to start a life of their own. Yet, it would eventually lead to all sorts of trouble when the stolen suitcase of cocaine really belonged to the mafia as they go on the search for this couple while a couple of crooked detectives would eventually get involved in this shady deal. It’s a film that blends all sorts of genres where it’s a crime film, a love story, and has a bit of humor where it features an element of fantasy. A lot of it is told from the perspective of this call girl who has big dreams for something good to come into her life.

Quentin Tarantino’s screenplay, with contributions from Roger Avary, is definitely filled with a lot of his trademarks in terms of pop culture references, witty dialogue, and graphic depiction of violence. Yet, he is focused solely on these two very unique people in Clarence and Alabama as they’re just this young couple who are in love with each other and want something that can be theirs. Clarence is a guy who loves Elvis Presley, movies, comic books, and burgers while Alabama is just a girl who wants to have fun and eat a pie after seeing a movie. Neither of them really know about how to deal drugs or know anything about the criminal underworld as all they want is some money and get out of the way. Still, complications would arise due to the fact that the man Clarence kills is really an associate of the mafia led by this sadistic man who is really a quiet yet no holds barred kind of man.

One aspect of the script that is noticeable is its schematic of sorts as the story is definitely similar to Terrence Malick’s 1973 debut film Badlands which is about two lovers going on a road trip during a killing spree that was largely inspired by the Starkweather-Fugate killings of the late 1950s. Though Clarence and Alabama aren’t killers, they do kill a few people who are essentially bad people. One notable scene is Alabama’s fight with Virgil as Virgil has this great monologue about what happens when one kills someone for the very first time. It’s part of the atmosphere that Tarantino writes with his dialogue that includes that very intense yet chilling meeting between Coccotti and Clifford Worley that is truly one of the greatest exchanges in film.

Tony Scott’s direction is purely thrilling in the way he creates the film’s intense moments of violence as well as some of its non-violent moments where he manages to keep the love story just as interesting. Scott does infuse a lot of footage from other films in the background to showcase this unique world where Clarence and Alabama will watch any kind of movie to establish who they are as he also finds a way to create unique shots of this relationship. Particularly in the scenes set in Detroit such as Clarence and Alabama’s visit to see Clarence’s dad where Scott isn’t afraid to put some light humor into the scene. Scott would also use these moments to let the story take a break from the dark moments of violence to ensure that it’s still a love story at heart.

In the film’s more intense moments, the violence is definitely stylized but also has an air of brutality. The famed Coccotti and Clifford Worley scene is presented with an intimacy and an air of suspense that is unsettling where both men try to push each other’s buttons in these very quiet exchanges. It’s among one of Scott’s greatest moments as a filmmaker as is the Alabama-Virgil fight where the violence is definitely visceral in the way it’s edited and presented. It’s no holds barred as there’s also an element of dark humor to keep things more intense where its climax is bloody in its emotional impact. The comes the climatic showdown where although its presentation is definitely more Tarantino, Scott does manage to keep his own approach by displaying the operatic cascade of violence. Overall, Tony Scott creates a dazzling yet stylish film that explores true love at its most craziest that is armed by Quentin Tarantino’s powerful screenplay.

Cinematographer Jeffrey L. Kimball does excellent work with the film‘s stylized photography from the grayish look of the Detroit locations to some colorful shots of its interiors as well as the more vibrant look of the Californian exteriors with its sunlight as well as the lighting schemes in the film‘s climatic standoff. Editors Michael Tronick and Christian Wagner do amazing work with the editing by utilizing stylish cuts for the film’s frenetic rollercoaster scenes along with some of it’s violent moments to slower, methodical cuts in the film’s romantic moments. Production designer Benjamin Fernandez, along with set decorator Thomas L. Roysden and art director James J. Murakami, does superb work with the set pieces from the honeymoon room that Clarence and Alabama stay at to the hotel suite that Donowitz lives in.

Costume designer Susan Becker does terrific work with the costumes from the outfits that Alabama wear to the more Elvis-inspired clothing that Clarence wears. Makeup artist Ellen Wong does nice work with the look of Drexl with his scar and eye. Sound editor Robert G. Henderson does wonderful work with the sound from the atmosphere of Clarence‘s meeting with Donowitz to the more intense moments in the film‘s violent scenes. The film’s music by Hans Zimmer is brilliant for its vibraphone driven score which is directly inspired by Carl Orff‘s Gaussenhauer theme which was the music used in Terrence Malick‘s Badlands. Music supervisor Maureen Crowe creates a fantastic soundtrack that features a wide range of music from acts like Aerosmith, Soundgarden, Charlie Sexton, Jon Waite, Billy Idol, the Skinny Boys, Shelby Lynne, the Big Bopper, the Shirelles, Robert Palmer, and Chris Isaak..

The casting by Risa Bramon Garcia and Billy Hopkins is phenomenal for the ensemble that is created as it features some notable small roles from Eric Allan Kramer as Donowitz’s bodyguard Boris, Paul Bates as Drexl’s associate Marty, Maria Pitillo as Elliot’s date, Ed Lauter as Nicholson and Dimes’ superior, Anna Levine as a woman Clarence talks to in the film’s opening scene, and Conchata Ferrell as a casting director Dick auditions for. Other memorable small roles includes Samuel L. Jackson as a criminal Drexl cheats in Big Don, Val Kilmer as Clarence’s imaginary mentor in the form of Elvis, and Brad Pitt in a hilarious performance as Dick’s stoner friend Floyd. Gary Oldman is great as the white Rastafarian pimp Drexl while James Gandolfini is superb as the vicious henchman Virgil.

Chris Penn and Tom Sizemore are amazing in their respective roles as determined detectives Dimes and Nicholson while Saul Rubinek is excellent as the charismatic film producer Lee Donowitz. Bronson Pinchot is very good as the reluctant Elliot Blitzer while Michael Rapaport is terrific as the reluctant but more willing friend Dick. Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken are outstanding in their respective roles as Clifford Worley and Vincenzo Coccotti where their scene together is truly a master class in the art of acting.

Patricia Arquette is brilliant as Alabama as a woman who is truly a call girl with a good heart and is full of joy but also someone who isn’t afraid to throw down. Christian Slater is fantastic as Clarence Worley with his charismatic persona and being engaging in conversations while also isn’t afraid to do what’s right. Slater and Arquette are the heart and soul of the film as they radiate chemistry while providing every moment for the audience to care about them.

True Romance is an incredible film from Tony Scott and screenwriter Quentin Tarantino. Armed with amazing dialogue, brutal violence, a wonderful soundtrack, and a great cast led by Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette. The film is truly one of the most exciting and entertaining films of the 1990s. Not only is the film one of Tony Scott’s great films but also one of Quentin Tarantino’s great work where both men display their talents in this film. In the end, True Romance is an ass-kicking and thrilling film from Tony Scott and Quentin Tarantino.

Tony Scott Films: (One of the Missing) - (Loving Memory) - The Hunger - (Top Gun) - (Beverly Hills Cop II) - (Revenge) - (Days of Thunder) - (The Last Boy Scout) - (Crimson Tide) - (The Fan) - (Enemy of the State) - (Spy Game) - (Man on Fire) - (Domino) - (Déjà Vu) - (The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009 film)) - (Unstoppable)

© thevoid99 2012


Chip Lary said...

This is one of those movies that I watched and liked, but I've never felt the urge to watch it again.

On a different note, I apologize in advance for the following question/request because it may come across as whining.

Is there anything you can do to speed up the time it takes for your blog to render a complete page? Every single click literally takes a couple of minutes to come back. I don't know if there's some widget that is running that takes up most of the time or not.

As an example, when I brought your site up just now I walked downstairs, erased a political robo-call off my answering machine, got a drink of soda, grabbed a snack, and walked back upstairs to my computer, just in time to see your site's main page finish rendering.

While it's possible it's my computer connection, I've only had this issue on one other blog (and even then not as pronounced). I vists dozens of others and they all come right up in seconds.

Again, my apologies for this. It's your site and you can have anything you want running on it. I only mention this in case the delay is an unintentional one caused by something you are ambivalent on having on your site.

Anonymous said...

Good review Steve. I was never a huge lover of Tony Scott's movies, but this definitely ranks up as one of his best, mainly because of Tarantino's script. However, I do think that this is Tarantino's weakest script as it's a bit more conventional and obvious than his others, but still has his lovely trademarks.

thevoid99 said...

@Chip-I really don't know what to do. I'm not sure what's going on. I use Firefox as my browser and I heard complaints about the site not being on other browsers. I honestly don't know. I apologize for what's happening as I think that's why I'm not getting as many hits as of late.

@Dan-Actually, I think this is one of Tarantino's great scripts though it does pale to his work on the scripts he did for himself though I think the weakest is From Dusk Till Dawn.

Chip Lary said...

"I really don't know what to do. I'm not sure what's going on. I use Firefox as my browser and I heard complaints about the site not being on other browsers. I honestly don't know. I apologize for what's happening as I think that's why I'm not getting as many hits as of late."

I wasn't going to say anything, because it felt like I was rubbing it in, but I had noticed a drop off in comments here the last couple of months and I felt the same thing - the delay was keeping people away.

I use Internet Explorer as my browser. I don't see a Twitter feed here, which appears to be the big delay at the other blog I mentioned.

In fact, the only difference I see between what you have on your site and I have on mine (both of us using Blogger), is that you have a ton of Labels.

I have no idea if that is what is taking the time. I would certainly hope that Blogger would have those pre-indexed, but maybe they have to build all of the links each time a page is sent?

Are you saying that while using Firefox you don't experience a delay with your site coming up? If so, that would seem to rule out the Labels being the cause.

I use Internet Explorer on my own Blogger site, though, and don't experience a delay, so that would seem to preclude the browser. (Unless it's a combination of the two).

Maybe a non-movie post asking people for who is and is not experiencing a delay, then what browsers they are using, would be helpful? If no pattern emerges, maybe someone like Bonjour Tristesse, who seems to be a whiz at html, can help.

thevoid99 said...

@Chip-I think it could be the labels. I would really like someone to help me how to create a code to place my indexes somewhere. That way, I can make sure that someone could click on that index and find something. It would be a big help.

Chip Lary said...

I'm afraid I don't know html, but you might try something I did do that didn't require any knowledge. If you go to my site you see links to some Pages I've created in the right hand column (i.e. "Index of Movies reviewed").

Creating a Page is just like creating a Post. It just takes the time to paste the links you want into the page then Publish it. Getting the Page link to show up on your blog is the same as getting any other widget, like the page views, to show up.

In theory you could create Pages with indexes, one for movies, one for performers, one for directors, etc., and then delete the Labels. (Delete them from showing up in the right hand column, not delete them from the posts, since the Label links would be the ones you would place in the new Pages.)

It would take some time, and while the Labels are my best guess, I don't know for a fact they are the cause, so there is a chance that this won't work.

thevoid99 said...

@Chip-I'll try that. Right now, I'm not sure what to do at this point.